Debunking The Harmful Myths About Black Fatherhood

Smiling boy looking at father while reading picture book at home

Photo: Getty Images

A prevailing stereotype about Black society is that most Black fathers aren't there for their children. Despite plenty of data unraveling this falsehood, many Black fathers are still met with microaggressions and exaggerated praise for being present in their kids' lives.

Luckily, there are people putting in work every day to change the way society looks at Black fathers. Before diving into their week, let's check out the numbers that reflect the reality of Black fatherhood.

Statistics Debunk Common Misconceptions

Father and daughter reading book in living room at home

Photo: Getty Images

The thought that most Black kids don't have their fathers in their lives has been twisted by research. Government data, which found that 72% of Black children are born to unmarried mothers, tend to be the source of this idea. The issue is that this statistic doesn't take into account several factors, as pointed out by The Chicago Reporter in 2019:

"Many fatherlessness statistics utilize marital and housing statuses as cornerstone metrics, resulting in highly inflated figures. These stats do not account for the fact that men have died or passed away, couples may live together while unmarried, couples may be divorced, and, let’s not forget, that, due to the system of incarceration, men are not only separated from their families but often even prevented from staying in the homes with their families if the housing is federally provided."

Just a few years after that 72% statistic made its debut, the National Center for Health Statistics released a 2013 study revealing that most Black fathers live with their children compared to their white counterparts. The research also shows that Black dads tend to be more involved with their children's lives, as well:

  • Children under the age 5: Black fathers prepared and/or ate meals more with their children compared to their white counterparts.
  • Children between 5 and 18: Black fathers took children to and from activities daily more than their white counterparts. They also helped their kids with homework more compared to white dads.

Black Dads Are Changing The Narrative

One way to dismantle harmful stereotypes about Black fatherhood is to share more positive stories, according to experts and advocates. Over the last few years, organizations and support groups have been popping up with the goal of rewriting the narrative about Black fatherhood.

One such example is The Dad Gang, which originally started with Sean Williams, a father of three, posting Instagram photos with his kids, according to The Washington Post. Eventually, he started highlighting more Black fathers he knew on his page. Williams later opened up the submissions to dads outside of his friend circle, and before he knew it, the page amassed over 86,000 followers. Now, The Dad Gang is a community where Black fathers can connect, share their experiences, and help each other while tearing down the horrendous myths about them.

"For too many years, it’s been projected that all black fathers are not in their children’s lives,” Kevin Riley, a father of two and member of The Dad Gang, told reporters. "The Dad Gang has become more than a platform; it’s a support group."

Then there's the Baltimore-based Dads United Organization, which has gotten news coverage from the local level all the way to ABC News. Founded in 2015 by Michael Cornish, he says the purpose of the organization is to "educate, advocate, elevate and develop a strong community of Black fathers that are engaged in their neighborhoods by creating safe spaces for healing and bonding."

While there is still much work to be done, Black fathers and other advocates are making moves to change how Black fathers are viewed in society.

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